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3 Questions to Ask When Life Lets You Down So You Thought Your Life Would Be Different By Now
It strikes when you aren’t expecting it. It’s worst when  it comes in the middle of what should be a good time, like  dinner with friends. Or during worship at church. It’s the  disconcerting question of your life: “is this really it?” Disillusionment isn’t just for the obvious times when  life doesn’t go as we planned. In fact, it seems to hit hardest  when life is pretty good. It may strike you in the middle of  what should be the life you want. It can hit after he proposes  or after the acceptance letter to graduate school. It’s a  feeling that may last a moment or a month, but when it  comes, you can’t ignore it. Disillusionment is a deep  disappointment in something or someone that turns out to  be less good than we first believed. It literally means to be  “without illusion” which doesn’t sound like a bad thing—so  why does it hit so hard and threaten to knock out our joy and derail our faith? Madeline L’engle once wrote, “pain is an angel that  tells us something is wrong.” Disillusionment doesn’t feel  like an angel, but it certainly sounds an alarm in our souls.  But disillusionment doesn’t have to be all bad—it can be an  opportunity to refocus and find new perspective. Here are  three questions to ask yourself in seasons where you feel  that life has let you down: What were you expecting? “I hate being an idealist,” a friend said to me recently,  “because I never arrive where I want to be.” But my friend’s  outlook and vision on life is one of the things I love most  about him. People with vision for the future are inspiring and  creative. They see a way that life can look and they go after  it. The problem is, those with high aspirations and ideals  often have to handle the reality that life isn’t exactly as they  pictured. Most of us expect life to happen faster, our success to  come easier and our path to be clearer. Often, our dreams  for the future leave out some of the harder parts—the  fatigue, the hard work, the strained relationships.  Sometimes our ideals for the future are more selfish than  we’d like to admit. When our reality doesn’t revolve quite as  much around our needs as we’d like, we find ourselves  frustrated. When life lets you down, ask yourself what you were  expecting. Don’t be afraid to play the story forward and put  words around it. Don’t polish it up for yourself—pursue  brutal honesty. What were you expecting right now? If life  happened exactly as you wanted, what you would wake up  to tomorrow? What would it look like, feel like?  Where is your faith? “What is faith? It is confident assurance that what we  hope for is going to happen” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). This begs the question, “what are you having faith about?” Most of us  want to have faith in the dreams we’ve created. We want to  have faith to believe we will be discovered, that we will be  loved, that we will be valued. We put our faith in someone  advocating for our promotion or laughing at our jokes or  loving us even when we are hard to love. But the writer of Hebrews wasn’t encouraging us to  put our faith in the visible things of life, but the invisible. This kind of faith moves our “confident assurance” away from our  own self-centered ideals and toward the deeper things of  our soul. After we’ve faced the truth about what we are  expecting out of life, we need to ask ourselves what we are  putting our faith in. Many of us end up placing all of our  hope on something instead of someone. Yet God makes it  clear that to put our faith in anything but Him is a worthless  pursuit. I  t is a tough wakeup call to discover what we’ve truly  put our faith in, but facing it honestly is a necessary step.  What do you believe will make you happy? Who do you  believe will bring you peace? What life step are you waiting  for to bring these things about? And does that thing, that  next step have the power to truly do that for you?
Who do you trust? Facing disillusionment isn’t just about your  circumstances. It’s about your hopes and your faith. It’s  about the courage it takes to be honest with yourself and  with God about life’s surprising and sometimes scary  seasons. And this is when the question turns, when we must  ask ourselves if we are willing to follow Christ even when it  gets hard. There was a time in Jesus’ ministry when he began to  systematically dismantle the religious belief system of how  people can follow God. He talked of the need for all to eat  His flesh and drink His blood. It sounds a little weird to our  modern ears but it would have been absolutely shocking to  the Jewish leaders of the time. The Bible tells us that the  religious people were disgusted and angry and that many  disciples also turned away and stopped following Jesus.  In what must have been a poignant moment, Jesus  turns to His 12 closest friends and says, “you do not want to  leave me too, do you?” (John 6:68). Sometimes when life lets us down, Jesus’ question  might be the one we need to face. “You do not want to leave  me too, do you?” Jesus’ question is about faith in Him when  you don’t like what you experience and trusting Him when  it’s hard. When life is tough in unexpected ways, will we  continue to trust that God is still working? When it’s not what  we wanted, will we profess that we will still follow Christ?  Most of us aren’t about to recant our faith, but we do begin  to wander. So if you’ve found yourself there, consider Peter’s  reply to Jesus in the very next verse, “to whom shall we go?  You alone have the words of life.” Well, not exactly the  strongest profession of faith. Peter answers with truth—what  else is worth giving our lives for? Who else is worth  following? Peter’s reply is a matter of what’s worth  worshipping. And at that moment, Peter answered with what  he knew—no matter how hard it gets, Jesus was the only  one worth trusting. It’s not heroic or flowery. It’s just the truth. There is  only one who holds the words of life. No success, no  relationship, no next life step can actually cultivate life—only  Jesus can. And His life is what we can access—His peace,  His presence, His power—no matter where our life happens  to be. Nicole Unice is the director of the Praxis program at Hope  Church, a residential internship for young leaders, and is the co-author of the upcoming book Start Here: Beginning a  Relationship with Jesus (David C. Cook, 2014)